Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition
Poster Board Number: 93
Objectives: Our objective was to quantitatively analyze the quality of the campus food environment. We also aimed to determine how aligning the assessment tool with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans by removing limitations on total fat content would impact the overall score.
Methods: Grand Valley State University is located in western Michigan with 6,000 of the 25,000 students, and 86% of freshmen living on campus. The Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) was used to assess the campus food environment, which assesses barriers and facilitators to healthy eating. We surveyed all 15 of the dining venues on campus. All raters successfully completed the NEMS online training. Independent data collection by raters occurred once all raters had achieved over a 90% agreement for all measures when assessing the same dining venue on the same day. This measure generates an overall score with a range from -5 to 21 points for each venue, with higher scores indicating a healthier food environment.
Results: The average score for all dining venues was 6.9, or progressing only 25% across the range from the lowest possible score to the highest possible score. If restrictions on total fat are removed the score improves slightly to 7.1. The highest score of any single venue was 13. Of 209 entrées evaluated, 59 were classified as healthy options (28%), increasing to 78 entrées when restrictions on total fat were eliminated (37%). Whole grain rich breads were offered at only 4 venues, which was one of the most significant barriers to healthy eating on campus. Only 6 locations offered a non-fried vegetable. The most significant factors decreasing the average campus score was: 1) The use of signage and pricing strategies that encouraged unhealthy eating. 2) A lack of signage encouraging healthy eating. 3) Low prevalence of menu notations to denote healthy choices. 4) Lack of nutritional information beyond calorie content at the point of purchase.
Conclusions: Removing restrictions on total fat content of foods has little impact on the overall campus food environment score. The changes that are expected to most favorable affect the food environment are an increase in whole grain offerings; increase frequency of nutrition information at the point-of-purchase, and highlighting of healthy choices on menu boards.
Grand Valley State University